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LITERARY    LIFE                        215

stone and bone inscriptions, the study of foreign names in the
history of the Mongol Dynasty. Others had as their hobbies the
ancient non-Confucian philosophers, the Yuan dramas, the
Book of Changes (Yiking), Sung philosophy (lihsiiefi), history of
Chinese painting, ancient coins, Chinese Turkestan, the
Mongol dialects, etc. So much depended on the teachers with
whom they came in contact and on the fashion of academic
studies of the period. In the middle of the Manchu regime,
when Chinese philologic scholarship had reached its summit,
there were collected in the HuangcKing Chingchieh and Shu
HuangcKing Chingchieh about four hundred works running to
over a thousand volumes, consisting of scholarly treatises on
extremely specialized topics, very similar in nature and spirit
to the doctorate dissertations of modern universities, only with
a maturer scholarship and involving much longer years of
labour, one of which I know took the author thirty years.


But true scientists are as rare in China as they are in the
West. On the other hand, we have as many political candidates
as there are Ph.D.s in America, men who need a rank to earn
their own bread and other people's respect. Perhaps the
Chinese official candidates are a greater pest to society than
the American Ph.D.s. Both of them pass an examination which
means no more or less than that the candidate has done a
certain amount of drudgery with a mediocre intelligence,
both of them want the rank for purely commercial reasons,
and both of them have received an education which totally
unfits them for anything except the handling of books and the
peddling of knowledge.

The Chinese Ph.D.s, however, had a distinctly official favour
about them. There were among them real talents, who took
these degrees for no earthly reason except the fun and ease of
taking them, and who climbed very high, reaching the last
stage of imperial examinations, becoming a chinshih or hanlin*
These went out as magistrates or became officials in the capital.
The great majority of them sunk in the first or second grades,